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Cut the Stress, Simplify Your Life

If stress is wearing you down, take some advice from those who have left their stress behind -- simplify your life.

It's Time to Disconnect continued...

Think about all the technology resources that we now use that weren't commonplace even a few years ago, says Dinnoncenzo. Simplifying your life doesn't mean you have to ditch the cell phone, pager, e-mail, instant messaging, voice mail, call forwarding, and on and on. But it does mean establishing clear boundaries:

  • Turn off your cell phone when you shouldn't be (or don't want to be) interrupted.
  • Don't take a cell phone to an appointment or when you are focusing on someone else.
  • Don't give out your cell phone number. Use it only for outgoing calls.
  • Screen calls by using caller ID.
  • Use the "delete" option -- early and often.
  • Arrange for calls from the office only in cases of emergency.
  • Maintain your commitment to work-free vacations.
  • Let voice mail or the answering machine take your calls.
  • On your voice mail greeting, be clear about when you will and will not be available.

Along with all this technology -- which includes the TV too, by the way -- comes information overload, says Daphne Stevens, PhD, a psychotherapist, life coach and author of the forthcoming book, Watercolor Bedroom: Creating a Soulful Midlife. "Limit the amount of information you expose yourself to," she says. "Being flooded with stimuli is a tremendous source of stress."

Debbie Mandel, MA, a stress management expert and author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, says simplifying your life is like "spring cleaning for the soul."

"Stress is omnipresent," says Mandel. "The trick is to learn to decompress." Mandel's suggestions for simplifying your life include:

  • Make a list of your activities, prioritize your to-do list, and shed those activities that no longer serve a purpose in your life.
  • Delegate chores at home and at the office. Don't try to do it all. Ask for help.
  • Let go of the myth of perfection.

Simplifying your life may also mean more than just getting rid of "stuff." It may mean getting rid of people too, says Daphne Stevens. "Avoid overexposure to negative or toxic people," she suggests. Instead, "nurture the relationships that support you. A quick email or card saying 'I'm thinking of you' can work wonders in keeping a friendship alive when we're too busy to do much else."

However you choose to simplify your life, remember that simplicity is not about poverty or deprivation, according to The Simple Living Network. It is about discovering what is "enough in your life -- based upon thoughtful analysis of your lifestyle and values -- and discarding the rest."

Reviewed on August 25, 2008

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